My Hero Academia
Episode 17

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 17 of
My Hero Academia (TV 2) ?

The U.A. sports festival rages on with the beginning of the cavalry battle. The most important rule was explained to us last week: the obstacle course's first place student (our precious ol' Midoriya) would be stuck with a ten million point headband, meaning that the cavalry battle's first place team is guaranteed to be either whoever steals Midoriya's headband, or Midoriya himself assuming he can survive to the end.

Right off the bat this is an episode determined to flesh out the supporting cast a lot more than before, or at least make a admirable argument for their continued role in the story. One of the weaker aspects to MHA for me until now has come from my lack of interest in the other kids in Midoriya's class, outside of the small handful of standouts. There's clearly been an effort to give each of these kids their own unique designs and personalities, but they never exactly lit up when the camera was on them in the past.

In order for Midoriya to get this cavalry started, he still needs to put together a team of his fellow students who are willing to risk their standing in the festival for his intimidating point value. There's a lot going on in this scene as the various students team up. It's clear that the vast majority of students want no part of Midoriya for this game, and they're immediately making their bid to be on Bakugo's team since he's the top ranked student in 1-A despite his, you know, Bakugo-ness.

It becomes even more interesting seeing who is and isn't looking to teaming up with Midoriya. Ochako and Tokoyami (the bird-headed kid). These two are cool to risk it all on Midoriya out of basic friendship, and even Mei the tech girl from the support class joins them, with a greater interest in showing off her gadgets than winning. However, this team only came together after Midoriya reached out to Iida and got turned down. As buddy-buddy as Iida has been with our underdog hero thus far, he's taken some of the recent rival dynamics between students to heart.

“Since this all started, I've been losing to you. Bakugo and Todoroki have challenged you already, but they aren't the only ones who see you as a rival.” This sports festival, and what it means to the individual characters, is already starting to bring their more three-dimensional aspects to the surface. There's something cool about seeing these different "top level" students butt heads and show their true colors. I'm also finally starting to memorize the supporting cast's names and individual powers, and the show has been doing a stellar job dishing that information out in easy-to-digest ways ever since last week's episode.

As for the cavalry game itself, there aren't a lot of noteworthy surprises yet. This is looking to be a two-parter, with the show's pacing continuing as it has since the season began, but I do find myself getting wrapped up the divisions between each character's personality and ambition. Sometimes they're friendly, sometimes they're mean, sometimes they're pragmatic, and sometimes even helpful to a fault. The way that each of these kids lend themselves to unique, yet believable character dynamics is something I'm really impressed by, which is surprising since I started this show thinking I wasn't going to care much about the background cast at all.

Rating: B+

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.

Sam Leach records about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @LuckyChainsaw

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